Original Rare WWI Imperial German West Africa Colonial Troops Schützentruppen Leather Belt & Pouch Rig

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Set Available. These are exceedingly rare! While there were some early attempts at colonization on the part of various German states, real efforts to become a colonial power did not begin until after the founding of the German Empire in 1871. 

In 1884, pursuant to the Berlin Conference, colonies were officially established on the African west coast, often in areas already inhabited by German missionaries and merchants. The following year gunboats were dispatched to East Africa to contest the Sultan of Zanzibar's claims of sovereignty over the mainland in what is today Tanzania. Settlements in modern Guinea and Nigeria's Ondo State failed within a year; those in Burundi, Cameroon, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Togo quickly grew into lucrative colonies. Together these six countries constituted Germany's African presence in the age of New Imperialism. They were invaded and largely occupied by the colonial forces of the Allied Powers during World War I, and in 1919 were transferred from German control by the League of Nations and divided between Belgium, France, Portugal, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

With such a short window, there was not much time to develop effective supply lines for Colonial Mounted Schützentruppen (Rifle Troops), so the solution were these leather belt pouch rigs. They feature 10 pouches around the belt, along with two on shoulder support straps. There is then also a frog for the standard knife bayonet on the left, and a brass ring for attaching a water bottle on the right. Because this equipment was designed for mounted troops where the horse (or camel) could carry much of the load, no provision was made for back packs, tent sections, blankets, canteens or bread bags. This allowed the soldier to carry more ammunition at the ready, without any need to dismount to get more from the storage on their mount.

This example is in good condition, and definitely does show age and wear. Many of these were captured during WWI, and then promptly put back into service, so almost all examples out there are quite worn. There are many broken or missing closure snaps on the pouches, and overall the leather has darkened and become somewhat brittle. The shoulder straps have broken at the stitch line under the ammo pouches on each side, and are now held on by field repairs. We looked over the rig, but were not able to find any markings. The belt looks to be adjustable from 36 to 42 inches.

A fantastic find, and the first example we have ever had!

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